Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Twin Peaks

No, I'm not talking about the old David Lynch television show; although, many of my guests ask if there is a link. San Franciscans may be crazy, but even this show was too weird for most of us.

Rather, I'm talking about the hills in the middle of San Francisco that provide a 270 degree view of the city. A drive to the top of Twin Peaks will let you see from the Golden Gate Bridge in the northwest, around the entire Embarcadero, to Candlestick Park in the southeast. (Yes, Candlestick has been renamed; but no self-respecting San Franciscan calls the home of the 49'ers anything but Candlestick or The Stick.) Your view includes a straight shot down Market Street, San Francisco's main street, where you will see the Ferry Building at the end. You will also be able to see the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, the twin steeples of St. Ignatius Church on the campus of the University of San Francisco, St. Mary's Cathedral, City Hall, and even Coit Tower. (You will need keen eyes to find Coit Tower, but it is in clear view between two white, high-rise buildings.)

Before you journey to Twin Peaks, check the weather. Many days the fog sits on the summit and the view is completely obscured. When standing on Market Street look southwest. If you see Twin Peaks, your view will be fine. If all you see is clouds, don't even think of going. But look again in an hour as the fog may burn off.

Twin Peaks is also an excellent place to see San Francisco lit up at night.

The summit parking lot sits approximately 920 feet above sea level. It is easily reached by driving out Market Street from downtown and continuing straight when the road changes its name and becomes Portola Avenue. Turn right at the stoplight at Twin Peaks Boulevard and wind your way to the top.

If you do not have a car at your disposal, you will need to take a tour to get to Twin Peaks as there is no public transportation to the summit. To book a private San Francisco tour that includes a stop on Twin Peaks, call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Italian Food One Last Time - For Awhile

Over the past few weeks I had the chance to dine at two more Italian restaurants. (Yes I've been on an Italian kick and I need to move on.)

The first, A16, has gotten rave reviews. I concur. Excellent wine list. Superb first courses; although, the grilled fava beans in the pod did not work. Terrific thin crust pizzas. We were pleasantly surprised that the restaurant was not overwhelmingly loud. I highly recommend A16. It's just too bad that reservations are usually needed as this would be a great place to just drop in on the spur of the moment. For visitors to San Francisco, A16 is very convenient if you are staying on motel row on Lombard Street. Otherwise, you'll need to take a taxi from Union Square or Fisherman's Wharf to get here.

The second, Vivande Porta Via, is a restaurant in Pacific Heights that we frequented with some regularity a few years back. Then we just drifted away for no particular reason. While the pastas we had were all good, they were not terrific. The appetizers were tasty, but not as finely prepared as A16's. I still recommend Vivande for those who find themselves on Fillmore Street, but it is not worth traveling from downtown to get here.

"Zagat" lists the following San Francisco Italian restaurants as their tops for food: Quince, Acquerello, Delfina, Tommaso's, Albona, Sociale, Incanto, Pesce, Antica Trattoria, Venticello, Ristorante Bacco, A16, and Parma. (The last 5 are tied with 23 points.) I have been to all in recent years except Tommaso's, a pizza joint in North Beach that I have not been to in years, and Parma, which I have never visited. I have no qualms with the list; although, I might reorder it. What I find interesting about the list is that only Tommaso's is in North Beach - San Francisco's Italian neighborhood - and only A16 and Tommasos feature food from the south of Italy.

So this is the last word on Italian food in San Francisco for awhile. Maybe I'll summarize French restaurants in the near future.

If you want to take a private, custom tour of San Francisco that visits the neighborhoods where these restaurants are located, call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.